The growing success of the Open Access movement is transforming how institutions view, manage, publish, and access their research outputs – irrespective of any local commitment to Open Access. In a similar manner the Open Educational movement may transform how institutions create, manage, and share learning materials. Open Educational Resources (OERs) are a catalyst for institutional change.
The growth of freely available learning materials from institutions around the world is, like Open Access, both an opportunity and a challenge for an institution. They offer the institution an opportunity to showcase their courses to potential students, enhance the reputation and visibility of the university among its peers and the general public, be seen to providing value for any public funding they receive by making knowledge more accessible, and promote a more flexible pattern of learning for enrolled students. They also, however, present challenges as the process of providing OERs is not straightforward and it accelerates the shift from understanding a university as a place where one goes to receive knowledge to understanding a university as a context for a community of learning in which students construct knowledge and a context for a student experience in which good facilities, pedagogy, and accreditation combine. If a student can access resources from many universities to support their learning, the quality of what a single institution adds to that content is crucial.
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